Leadership in the Spirit of the time (Zeitgeist)
During my delegation in Guadalajara, in just two years, we were able to perform a complete cultural change. We succeeded to create a high performance culture based on lean management by bringing together the different achievements in one holistic approach.
In my previous blogs, I discussed outdated forms of autocratic leadership, desired modern leadership, and the four management capabilities. Now I would like to tell you about how my experiences managing cultural change in Mexico taught me the essentials of leadership Z, or leadership in the spirit of the time (zeitgeist).
Root cause analysis
Before I arrived in Guadalajara, measures such as putting high pressure on the employees and extending work hours failed to improve the situation. People were engaged in attending the symptoms rather than the root cause. People were trapped in a vicious circle which involved changing priorities on a constant basis. Few processes were standardized or documented in a detailed manner and process responsibility was barely defined. This made root cause analysis as difficult as possible and people preferred to rely on fast solutions.
The lack of standards and lack of setting of priorities resulted in a poor administrative performance in which processes such as quotation and the issue of purchase orders could extend to three weeks. The increasing pressure management exerted generated extreme stress and psychological strain on the employees developing into a defensive and aggressive culture style. Frustration and denial of an internal crisis were the result.
The profound culture problem was now obvious and experienced by everybody, but nobody seemed to consider himself as a part of the problem and therefore also not of the solution.
By implementing a new management and production system, just two years later, the positive impact in its culture is not only evident in its outstanding result over all indicators, it could also be observed in a conducted survey before and after the introduction.
The 5 principles of Successful Management
The journey of the Guadalajara Site can be regarded as the pooling of five fundamental principles thus capitalizing the richness and strength of lean while modifying the existing management practices and incorporating the Siemens values at the same time.
These basic premises were, as learning from the past:
1) Review Job Environment & Satisfaction via commitment to learning
2) Motivate Participation via efficient and open communication
3) Demand Leadership Responsibility via learning by small steps and allow failure
4) Develop new Behavior Pattern via coaching routines and Socratic questioning
5) Insist on Lean Methods and Tools via consistent use of lean tools and methods
We were even able to see, how the organization was walking through the house of change one year after the other. From denial of the problem, getting confused and being ready for renewal.
Management Style X
By looking back on my experience with Guadalajara, it was obvious that the former management style applied was authoritarian since their leaders perceived their employees as reluctant to work, evasive over responsibility, eager to be directed. Due to this, employees continuously had to be hustled into work, closely controlled by management and even threatened to work hard enough. This management position is also known as management theory X (Mc Gregor 1960).
Management Style Y
In the opposite position, theory Y, people are perceived by the management as self-motivated and creative and it’s assumed, people experience their work as something natural and enjoy working with greater responsibility. A style Y manager believes that employees are self-directed to the aims and benefits of the organization. Employees should even be included in the decision making process and appreciation is important. This is imaginable in creative and high skilled work environments.
Management Style Z
Our approach was more close to style Z, a different observed management style. In this approach, the assurance of long-term employment, collective decision-making and trust were of high interest. Simple changes like flex time were received as highly motivating, so mothers with young children could bring them into child care without being afraid of coming late to work. The organization was set up to allocate individual responsibility which was continuously, but also slowly growing via a formalized evaluation and promotion process.
I am dealing with Leadership Z(eitgeist) in my final blog of the Series.
What are your experiences with lean management and change of culture? Feel free to share your thoughts!